South Dakota rethinks ‘Don’t Jerk and Drive’ campaign

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PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota is canceling its successful “Don’t Jerk and Drive” ad campaign after complaints that the double entendre is inappropriate.

That public safety campaign, intended to warn winter drivers against jerking the steering wheel on slick roads, has achieved its goal of engaging thousands of people, the Argus Leader reported. More than 16,000 people saw the #DontJerkAndDrive campaign on Twitter in its first week, and page views at the related Facebook page have jumped to almost 30,000 since the campaign launched, outperforming previous public safety campaigns 25 to 1.

However, the Department of Public Safety is killing the campaign after complaints about the possible sexual connotation of the term “jerk.”

“I decided to pull the ad,” DPS secretary Trevor Jones told the newspaper. “This is an important safety message and I don’t want this innuendo to distract from our goal to save lives on the road.”

Earlier, DPS officials behind the campaign had said the double meaning was done on purpose as part of an effort to reach young males — the demographic most likely to crash in icy conditions. Other parts of the campaign included the phrases “Jerking isn’t a joke,” “Think before you jerk,” and “Keep calm and don’t jerk the wheel.”

But in the end, the same boldness that made the campaign so attention-grabbing appears to have doomed it. Republican state Rep. Mike Verchio said he planned to call the campaign’s organizers before the transportation committee to ask what they were thinking.

Read more at the Argus Leader